Oregon donors should be careful to avoid giving to charities that spend most of the contributions they collect on telemarketing and administration
To kick off the season of gift-giving, Attorney General John Kroger today unveiled a list of Oregon's 20 Worst Charities and offered tips to consumers on how to donate wisely.
"In the middle of a recession, it is more important than ever that generous Oregonians make charitable contributions to organizations that help veterans and others who are in need," said Attorney General Kroger. "It is critical, however, that people donate wisely. Although many charities do great work, some are little more than scams with good-sounding names but that do little to actually help the people they claim to support."
State law requires charities to file periodic financial reports with the Oregon Department of Justice disclosing how much money the organization raised and how the funds were spent. The Department's Charitable Activities Section has identified 20 organizations (see attached) that spent more than 75 percent of the donations they collected on administrative costs and professional fundraising.
While guidelines issued by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) suggest that charitable organizations should spend at least 65% of their funds on charitable programs, every charity on the Department of Justice's list devoted less than 25% of their expenditures on charitable program activities.
One organization near the top of the list, Shiloh International Ministries, solicits donations to provide medical necessities and other support to needy children, veterans, and homeless persons. According to the most recent financial filings, the California-based nonprofit spent an average of $1,023,215 per year, 96.35% of which went to management and fundraising.
Financial reports for Big Hope (formerly known as the Children's Charitable Foundation) reveal that the organization, which provides ""assistance, support and related charitable programs to children suffering from serious or life threatening illness," dedicated just 8.67% of its expenditures to its programs.
Currently, there are nearly 16,000 charities registered with the Oregon Department of Justice, and many of them are actively seeking donations. By law, Attorney General Kroger cannot dictate how charities spend your money, but he is providing Oregonians some basic advice (see attached) to ensure your gifts go to a worthy cause.
Before donating, it is important to make sure the organization is registered with the Attorney General's Office by searching the Department's online database or by calling 971-673-1880. You can also visit www.guidestar.org, a national clearinghouse of information on charities and their performance.
Attorney General Kroger also cautions Oregonians to watch out for solicitations that thank you for your previous support and charities that send invoices claiming you made a recent pledge when you didn't. These methods are intentionally confusing and dishonest ways to gain donations.
Consumers are advised against giving out their personal information over the phone. Legitimate charities will accept contributions by check, which should always be made payable to the organization not the individual collecting the donation.
The Oregon Department of Justice Charitable Activities Section is responsible for ensuring that organizations soliciting funds in Oregon register and file periodic financial reports showing how donations are spent. The section also protects the public against organizations that attempt to mislead Oregon donors. The section this year took action against several charities that purported to benefit local search and rescue teams, schools, and veterans.
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 firstname.lastname@example.org